Where in the World do Viruses Come From?

The U.S. and Brazil continued their output of spam and viruses through August, although levels have dropped slightly since July, according to security vendor Network Box.

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An analysis of Internet threats by Network Box in August 2009 shows that the volume of malware, which peaked in July (when volumes increased by 300 per cent), are down again at levels seen in June (around four viruses per customer, per hour). Spam is also down slightly, averaging around 90 spam e-mails per customer, per hour (from a peak of around 120 in May).

The U.S. continues to dominate as the main source of the world's viruses, producing 15.9 per cent of all viruses. It is followed closely by Brazil, which produces 14.5 per cent (similar levels to last month's 14.1 per cent).

Brazil continues to be the biggest source of spam, producing 11.6 per cent of all spam, followed by the US at 8.6 per cent and South Korea at 7.2 per cent.

South Korea remains the biggest source of intrusion attacks, at 17.3 per cent.

Phishing attacks also remain high, at 33 per cent of all viruses. This is down slightly from last month's 36.2 per cent, but still significantly higher than in June, when phishing attacks made up just five per cent of all viruses. (See also "Can You Trust Free Antivirus Software?")

Patches prevent infections

Meanwhile, Network Box lowered its global alert condition to Level 2, saying it has been the lowest in nine months. This means there are limited virus/worm activities, with no major unexploited vulnerabilities or threats.

Mark Webb-Johnson, CTO of Network Box, said: "The large number of recent vulnerabilities announced by both Microsoft and Apple led to a frenzy of malware activity spearheaded by an unprecedented large number of website defacements. What we're now seeing is that those who have already patched are protected and those that haven't are already infected -- so the number of new infections appears to have levelled off."

Simon Heron, Internet security analyst for Network Box, added: "Businesses and individuals still need to be alert to threats through the remainder of the summer, particularly phishing attacks. We've seen a huge increase in SQL injection attacks so it's important that anyone using Web-based applications or servers keeps their security up-to-date."

While threat landscape currently remains stable, Network Box said it will continue to closely monitor and re-evaluate the situation as necessary, especially with Microsoft's Patch Tuesday coming next week.

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